This winter, students interested in frolicking in the snow can check out sleds and shovels from an unlikely source: the Law Library.
The winter gear joins a long list of useful yet unconventional items in circulation at the Lillian Goldman Library, including blankets with sleeves and DVDs. The library boasts games, sporting gear, tech equipment and study tools. In the past, the library unofficially has also allowed undergraduates to check out items, provided that there are enough in circulation. Now, policy has changed so that Yale College students can check out anything from the Law Library, except for iPads and laptops.
“We tried to think of what students lack when they’re away from home, what don’t they have in the dorm room or apartment,” said Julian Aiken, head of Access Services at the library. “The list of things we check out will only be limited by our own imagination or the ideas of students — if we can fit it in the library and check it out, we will.”
Aiken said the library is very responsive to student requests. Joanna Dafoe LAW ’17, who formed the Yale Law School Sledding Society this year, said she inquired about the possibility of the library adding sleds to its circulation. She said she and Aiken worked together to order 10 sleds on Amazon. The gear arrived at the end of January.
“A lot of folks have never been sledding before,” Dafoe said. “If [the Law Library] didn’t have sleds available, some students wouldn’t bother going out.”
She added that a collection of law school students are trying to convince their counterparts at the Yale Divinity School to take a break from religious study for a run on the slopes.
While the sleds remain untested, other unconventional items have been quite a hit. Aiken said the board games, popular fiction and nonfiction books and sporting equipment are the most popular with students. Noise-cancelling headphones and phone chargers are also in high demand, he added.
Students can request the items at the library circulation desk, though some, including the board games and DVDs, have their own section within the library.
Typically, items that are used outside the library, such as the board games, can be checked out for a week, while those used in the library, such as phone chargers, can be checked out for 24 hours.
In the past, the Law Library officially didn’t loan out the items to undergraduates but would make exceptions when the item requested was sufficiently well-stocked, Aiken said. He added the library was “flexible” with this policy, particularly if undergraduates were working in the library at the time.
In an effort to extend the library’s services to the entire Yale community, Aiken said he is now formalizing the library’s policy toward undergraduate borrowing by allowing them to check out anything from the library, with the exception of laptops, iPads and, most prized of all, Monty, the library’s therapy dog.
When it comes to offering unconventional items, Bass Library will not be following suit. Ken Crilly, associate University Librarian for Program Development and Research, said the size of the Yale College student body — on top of graduate students and faculty, who also frequent Bass — makes a similar program infeasible.
The program at the Law Library originated about four years ago, Aiken said. In 2011, the Law Library began offering students the opportunity to check out time with Monty, who is Aiken’s dog, a small, brown cross-breed terrier. The program, which was one of the first of its kind, was an unqualified success, Aiken said, and inspired the library to expand its collection of items students might enjoy but are not strictly academic.
“We’re trying to make students realize that we appreciate them as people,” Aiken said. “A lot of these things, like soccer balls and sleds, one might not need as a student, but as a person.”
Students interviewed expressed praise for the Law Library’s service, though several were initially unaware that it offered unconventional items.
Yuki Hayashi ’17, a book monitor at the library, said she hopes the extension of the service to undergraduates will encourage more to come to the library. She added that undergraduates are gradually recognizing the library as an ideal study space, and the ability to borrow a blanket at the library on cold winter days is an added draw.
Helen Li LAW ’17, who has borrowed some of the unconventional items several times, said the Law Library Circulation Desk has been likened by students to the “Room of Requirement” from Harry Potter.